Archive for August, 2011

The Fix Is In

August 12th, 2011 10:35 pm  |  by  |  Published in Economics, Federal Reserve, Peter Schiff  |  Comments Off

by Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, and host of The Peter Schiff Show, broadcasting live from WSTC Norwalk CT from 10am to noon Eastern time every weekday, and streaming at www.schiffradio.com

This week’s wild actions on Wall Street should serve as a stark reminder that few investors have any clue as to what is really going on beneath the surface of America’s troubled economy. But this week did bring startling clarity on at least one front. In its August policy statement the Federal Reserve took the highly unusual step of putting a specific time frame for the continuation of its near zero interest rate policy.

Moving past the previously uncertain pronouncements that they would “keep interest rates low for an extended period,” the Fed now tells us that rates will not budge from rock bottom for at least two years. Although the markets rallied on the news (at least for a few minutes) in reality the policy will inflict untold harm on the U.S. economy. The move was so dangerous and misguided that three members of the Fed’s Open Market Committee actually voted against it. This level of dissent within the Fed hasn’t been seen for years.

Many economists have short-sightedly concluded that ultra low interest rates are a sure fire way to spur economic growth. The easier and cheaper it is to borrow, they argue, the more likely business and consumers are to spend. And because spending spurs growth, in their calculation, low rates are always good. But, as is typical, they have it backwards.

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Gold Faces Short-Term Price Trap

August 10th, 2011 10:33 pm  |  by  |  Published in Economics, Federal Reserve, gold, inflation, Money  |  Comments Off

by John Browne, Senior Market Strategist at Euro Pacific Capital

Last week Fed Chairman Bernanke raised eyebrows and denied history when he asserted in front of Congress that gold doesn’t qualify as money. Yesterday he took the unprecedented step of announcing that the Federal Reserve would keep interest rates near zero for at least the next two years. In very short order thereafter it required much more of the money that he believes in (U.S. dollars) to buy the money that he doesn’t believe in (gold).

In any event, it was beyond unusual for the Fed to make such an explicit time commitment on monetary policy. To underscore this fact, three voting members of the Federal Open Market Committee came out against the policy. Such dissent within the Fed’s ranks has not been seen in decades. But Bernanke’s shameless appeasement of market fears did interrupt, if only for a few hours, the free fall on Wall Street. Wiser investors, understanding how a more activist Federal Reserve will destroy the value of the dollar, moved to gold, pushing the metal up to north of $1,750 per ounce.

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The Center of Gravity Shifts Slowly

August 5th, 2011 10:38 pm  |  by  |  Published in Banking, Debt, Economics, government spending, inflation, Money, national debt  |  Comments Off

by Andrew Schiff, Director of Communications and Marketing at Euro Pacific Capital (www.europac.net)

To an extent not fully appreciated by the investing public, financial markets are influenced by human emotion just as much as they are by economic data, corporate earnings, and dividend yields. Of all human motivations, fear is perhaps the most powerful. When people get scared, the “fight or flight” instinct forces us to take action.

Simple dangers prompt simple responses. If we unexpectedly encounter a bear on our driveway, we immediately run into the house and call animal control (or, in the country, grab the shotgun). But it’s harder to know what to do when financial danger stalks the stock market. To be honest, most investors are clueless. Is that really a bear? Is it dangerous? What qualifies as a house?

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Gold is the True Reserve Currency

August 4th, 2011 9:46 pm  |  by  |  Published in Debt, Economics, government spending, inflation, Money, national debt  |  1

by Michael Pento, Senior Economist at Euro Pacific Capital (www.europac.net)

The reliance upon the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency and “safe haven” asset has created a perverse, but deeply entrenched, mindset among global investors. In fact, many believe the major financial players have no alternatives to owning U.S. debt and dollars. They argue that the market for U.S. dollars and Treasuries is the only financial pool large enough to handle the massive liquidity that sloshes around the globe on a daily basis. This idea makes a mass exodus from U.S. debt holdings seem impossible. This provides a nice explanation why the U.S. Treasury bonds can rally even while the government openly flirts with default and ratings agencies issue downgrades. But just because an illogical event occurs habitually does not mean it is logical or tenable.

The sophomoric reasoning behind the dollar “exceptionalism” argument is like assuming a stock can never fall unless a significant portion of shareholders decide to sell. In reality, a buyers strike is all that is needed to puncture a market. If the U.S. experienced just one disastrous Treasury auction, prices could nose-dive and yields could skyrocket across the board on all U.S. debt.

But the problem doesn’t just lie with the United States. Investors around the world are finally beginning to understand that central bank’s thirst for creating inflation, in order to keep their banks and governments solvent, will never be quenched.

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Debt Deal is a Blank Check

August 1st, 2011 7:48 pm  |  by  |  Published in congress, Debt, Economics, government spending, national debt, Peter Schiff  |  Comments Off

by Peter Schiff, CEO of Euro Pacific Capital, and host of The Peter Schiff Show, broadcasting live from WSTC Norwalk CT from 10am to noon Eastern time every weekday, and streaming at www.schiffradio.com.

By supposedly compromising to raise the debt ceiling, Congress and the President have now paved the way for ever higher levels of federal spending. Although, the nation was spared the trauma of borrowing restrictions, the actual risk of default existed solely in the minds of Washington politicians.  But the real crisis is not, nor has it ever been, the debt ceiling. The crisis is the debt itself. Economic Armageddon would not have resulted from failure to raise the ceiling, but it will come because we succeeded in raising it. This outcome falls along the lines that I had forecast (See my commentary, “Don’t Be Fooled by Political Posturing” from July 9th).

Both parties are now pretending that the promised cuts in spending outweigh the increase in the debt limit. But the $900 billion in identified cuts are spread over a decade and are skewed toward the end of that period. There are an additional $1.4 trillion in cuts that the plan assumes will be identified by a bi-partisan budget committee. But similarly empowered panels in the past have almost never delivered on their mandates.

More importantly, none of these “cuts” are actually binding. There is plenty of time for future Congresses to reverse what was so laboriously agreed to over the past few weeks. My guess is renewed economic weakness will be used to justify ultimate suspension of the cuts. In addition, most of the spending reductions were already scheduled to take effect before this agreement. So what did we really get?

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